02/10/2017 – Leather — auf Deutsch lesen

What is leather exactly?

The unique characteristic of leather comes from its very nature, which cannot be copied.


The term ‘leather’ is in a constant state of flux, to the confusion of consumers © pixabay


This, however, has never deterred creative spirits from bringing new products onto the market in the hope of swimming on the tide of leather’s success. Test-tube materials with a velour or nappa appearance have been offered as ‘silky leather’ or ‘lamb’s-touch leather’. Materials made from various natural fibres have been advertised as ‘pineapple leather’, ‘vegan leather’ and so on.

 Leather for clothing is not subject to any statutory labelling requirements. Where leather clothing is marked as being of a certain material, however, the labelling must not be incorrect (such as calling pig velour ‘suede’) or misleading to the customer (e.g. upselling pig split leather by calling it ‘silk leather’). This means that even in the case of voluntary marking, the statutory regulations regarding material labelling must be observed.

 There are, however, quite clear rules regarding labelling and contravention of these or the use of misleading variations will lead to warning action; this is one of the business activities of the German Leather Federation (VDL).

 In March, in the course of a meeting of VDL members, its Director, Dr Schröer, explained that safeguarding and representing the economic interests of the leather-producing industry was a key activity of the Federation. This includes preventing the anti-competitive and misleading use of the term ‘leather’ for less expensive materials that do not consist of tanned animal hides and do not meet the EN 15987 standard.

 It is not only in Germany that the deliberately misleading use of the terms ‘leather’ and ‘genuine leather’ has reached epidemic proportions in recent years, which the VDL regards as a major contravention of the law against unfair competition.

 There are no limits to the fantastical ways in which materials consisting predominantly of synthetic substances are talked up. Popular terms include textile leather, PU leather, outdoor leather, soft leather, nubuck-type leather, eco-leather, Napalon, pilots’ leather, vegan leather, pineapple leather, silk leather, Achilles leather and so on.

 The VDL is chasing down these abuses. In the past three years alone, over 300 cease-and-desist notices have been issued and enforced by penalties and more than 40 interim orders made against renegade companies. Thirty contractual penalties have been imposed, at the expense of the offending parties.

 Regrettably, only in Germany do legally watertight regulations exist regarding the correct use of the term ‘leather'. Efforts to achieve EU regulation such as that in the area of shoes, which would regulate beyond doubt the misuse of the term ‘leather’ for all types of product, have so far been without success.

 In Germany, the legal basis is the DIN EN 15987 standard, Leather Terminology: Main Definitions for the Leather Trade, along with the RAL standards (www.beuth.de) that are protected as registered quality marks

 RAL 060 A 2: Definition of the term ‘leather’ in contrast to other materials, and labelling regulations

 RAL 062 B: Labelling regulations for clothing leather and leather clothes

by Sonja Langer-Korsch

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